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NYC's Trash-Sucking Tubes May Be Upgraded, Expanded 100

Posted by Soulskill
from the it's-the-mega-maid-sir dept.
derekmead writes "When urban planners were trying to turn New York's Roosevelt Island from a haven for the disabled and the mentally ill into a liveable city, they got utopian. Lying beneath their plans was an unusual technology: a series of tubes that literally suck garbage from buildings at speeds up to 60 miles per hour to a central collection point, where the trash is taken off the island by truck or barge. Theoretically, that eliminates the emissions and traffic caused by giant garbage trucks, and makes trash sorting easier. Now, more than thirty years after the 'AVAC,' or Automated Vacuum Collection System, was installed, Envac, the Swedish company that built it, is exploring how to upgrade it and even extend the system to other parts of the city. Under a new feasibility study conducted by City University and funded by two city agencies, the easiest option would be to stretch the current system south, to cover the new technology campuses being built on Roosevelt Island by Cornell University and the Technion. "
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NYC's Trash-Sucking Tubes May Be Upgraded, Expanded

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  • by Bodhammer (559311) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @05:55PM (#40377171)
    You mean like the internet? I don't think we need more tubes that move garbage...
  • Does this company happen to originate from Zebes?
  • by Baby Duck (176251) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:01PM (#40377269) Homepage
    Now there's the most efficient way to discard a dismembered body.
  • by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:01PM (#40377273)
    It works, you just have to be mindful of what you put in it.
    Stereos? Rebar? I guess people will be idiots.
  • by gestalt_n_pepper (991155) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:09PM (#40377379)

    But what could go wrong?

  • I knew it! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:12PM (#40377415)

    I always knew that NY sucked, just not that it did it literally.

  • They get rid the pollution caused by garbage trucks by transporting the garbage another way...

    Why not build a city wide generic transportation system. We do not need a separate one for every type of object being transported.

    • by TeknoHog (164938)
      Sure, we'll just beat you into a nicely flowing pulp. Or packets -- would you prefer to be split as TCP or UDP?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think most types of goods would not benefit from being sucked through a tube and crashing into other items at 60 miles per hour, so trash is special in that it can be transported in this way with no packaging around it. A generic transportation system sounds good too, but it will be far more expensive. Personally I don't know why we don't have a rail type system that transports people from any point to any other point. Like roads and cars but computer controlled so no need for drivers and no lower limit o

      • by Anonymous Coward

        That's Brilliant! A Rail-Gun to transport people and garbage from point to point. No packing, no nets, just let 'er rip! Who says space is the final frontier?
        That beats the living crap out of my Human/Garbage cannonball idea, it involved packing customers and garbage in 55 gallon drums and wouldn't accommodate really fat people due to limitations of packing. With a rail gun you could fire a really fat person across the Atlantic. No one need be discriminated against. We could even fire our garbage across the

      • by westlake (615356)

        Personally I don't know why we don't have a rail type system that transports people from any point to any other point.

        Maintainance and operation. In all seasons.

        That includes cars, tracks and switches. Overheads or third rail for power.

        All a bus or automobile really needs is a reasonably dry and flat surface. Beneath the asphalt surface here you will still find traces of the original wood and brick paving blocks.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Because not all needs are the same?
      City planning isn't easy.

    • by PPH (736903)

      Why not build a city wide generic transportation system.

      That would be the subway. Garbage (human and other types) and a convenient urinal. Oh , yeah. Mass transit, too (almost forgot).

    • by instarx (615765)

      Oh right. Well YOU can ride in the same system that transports the garbage. I'll stick to the human-only system.

      • In every other city in the world this "human only system" that you speak of, aka the road, also transports the garbage.
        So there is like a 99.8% chance that you do ride in the same system as your own garbage....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Theoretically, that eliminates the emissions and traffic caused by giant garbage trucks, and makes trash sorting easier.

    How does the so-called "carbon footprint" of this 24x7x365 sucker compare with once or twice a week garbage trucks?

    And how is "sorting easier" when it's flying into a "central collection point" (read: steadily growing pile) at 60 mph?

    • And how is "sorting easier" when it's flying into a "central collection point" (read: steadily growing pile) at 60 mph?

      I think you just answered your own question, Cap'n.

    • And how is "sorting easier" when it's flying into a "central collection point" (read: steadily growing pile) at 60 mph?

      All those people wandering trough your neighborhood picking through you trash cans now have a single, conveniently located place to go to work. It seems to work well in India and Brazil.

    • by CityZen (464761)

      It's not constantly sucking. There was an article on this system, I believe on Wired, a while back. Locally deposited trash goes into local holding area. It is emptied out as needed by periodic transfer (sucking) to a main collection point.

    • by RajivSLK (398494)

      How does the so-called "carbon footprint" of this 24x7x365 sucker compare with once or twice a week garbage trucks?

      I would imagine that large buildings in NYC would require daily pickup and each building would produce enough trash to fill an entire truck each day. A large office building in NYC has 50,000 or so people in it per day. Now if only the could upgrade the system to transfer recyclables to the recycling station.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @11:39PM (#40380587)

        > I would imagine that large buildings in NYC would require daily pickup

        Obviously it's a bit of a special case, but I think the World Trade Center's garbage transfer facility actually kept some engineers busy for a few months planning it back in the late 60s or early 70s. Without getting into the obvious implications of Force = mass x acceleration, where acceleration = 9.8 meters/second per second and the potential energy from a thousand-foot drop, a single tower of the old WTC generated trash during the day faster than trucks could physically back into the loading dock, fill up, and haul it away. Apparently, they were mostly able to keep up until around 10:30am, then the first wave of trash hit from the morning coffee breaks, lunch pushed them into the realm of "hopeless", and they didn't finally catch up and get the system "emptied" again until sometime around 4am (the trash continued well past midnight, because the cleaning crews themselves generated wave after wave of trash).

        From what I read, an entire category of trash management came into existence with the World Trade Center, from compaction all the way to heavy-duty trucks capable of dealing with a huge load of densely-packed trash. I believe that some new skyscrapers in China actually have on-site incinerators.

    • by instarx (615765) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @09:10PM (#40379441)

      And how is "sorting easier" when it's flying into a "central collection point" (read: steadily growing pile) at 60 mph?

      I lived on Roosevelt Island for many years. The trash is sorted in the building by residents (as in all NYC apartment buildings). Recyclables are run through the vacuum system at one time of day, and garbage during another time of day. It does help with the sorting at the collection station.

  • by ajlitt (19055) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:19PM (#40377543)

    Or they could use it to transport people.

  • I work in NYC and it the walk to and from my office off the subway can smell very very awful on days where its hot and there was just a garbage pickup. All I could think was "Why isn't there a better method of collecting trash in the city other than leave it outside to rot till someone picks it up." There arent even trash cans to hold the bags, so all the "garbage juice" collects on the sidewalk and reaks. I couldn't really think of any good easy to implement and maintain methods (and this certainly doesn't

  • ...is about to become reality.

  • Warning (Score:5, Informative)

    by Megahard (1053072) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @06:53PM (#40378003)
    Do not put your dick in the trash sucking tube.
    • Re:Warning (Score:5, Funny)

      by Megahard (1053072) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:48PM (#40379229)
      +5 Informative????!? Ok, here's some more tips for lonely slashdotters:
      Do not put your dick in the light socket
      Do not put your dick in the milking machine
      Do not put your dick in the salami slicing machine
      Do not put your dick in the toaster
      Do not put your dick in anything that's been dead for more than 5 hours

      There must have been countless horrific injuries before we had the internet to dispense this essential information.
    • by jon3k (691256)
      The best part about this post is that it's from a guy named "Megahard". Mod this guy up please.
  • Paris was famous for its system of pneumatic tubes used for mail delivery. The system was automated, with colour coded bands used for routing, some systems used electromagnet propulsion. If this garbage system works half so well,it will be great. I don't see anything about recycling or composting though. That's bad. There is a great article on it here: http://www.cix.co.uk/~mhayhurst/jdhayhurst/pneumatic/book1.html [cix.co.uk]
  • How to clean them? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I believe it can be done properly, but all I've seen from trash tubes are disgustingly dirty chutes that could not be properly cleaned and tended to attract cockroaches and the like. Either by accident (like a trash bag ripping inside the tube) or by improper use, they tend to become dirty and are impracticable to clean. Water pipes work because, well, there's water running on them. And trash cans, if they eventually become dirty, can be moved to be cleaned or at least replaced.

    Here in France, most (if not

    • by Jeremi (14640)

      I believe it can be done properly, but all I've seen from trash tubes are disgustingly dirty chutes that could not be properly cleaned and tended to attract cockroaches and the like.

      The beauty of this system reveals itself when you see a cloud of cockroaches whizzing down the tunnel at 60MPH...

  • by Luckyo (1726890) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @08:39PM (#40379143)
  • When people throw their garbage down the trash chutes, it piles up for several hours, until a trapdoor opens, sucking the waste into a big underground pipe. Then a complex system of air valves propels the garbage through the pipe at speeds of up to sixty miles per hour. When the trash resurfaces at the Avac center, a squat building at the northern tip of the island, it is dumped into two silo-shaped cyclones, where it is spun like cotton candy and then whooshed down chutes into huge containers.

    Okay: trash chutes, I get. Trapdoors, big underground pipe, series of air valves? No problemo, obviously we'll need all of those things. Dumped into two silo-shaped cyclones? Naturally. Wooshing it down (more) chutes into huge containers: of course.

    But spinning the trash like cotton candy before the last step is where I draw the line! That's simply gratuitous. What were the protoype, pre-final chute/huge container designs: slushee constant mix machine? Season the garbage with bay leaves and slow cook it fo

  • Why not extend the system to carry all kinds of freight? It would be awesome to resupply stores, deliver packages, and the like the same way. It would dramatically cut the truck traffic in the city, with all the noise, pollution, and traffic they create. It's probably even safer, from a security standpoint, to have an expertly monitored system like that than a hundred thousand random vans, delivery trucks, and semis running around.

  • "Trash-Sucking Tubes" sounds like a good name for a rock band.

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